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Posts Tagged ‘Soy’

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Rows of soybeans at a farm in Wisconsin, U.S.A

Soy beans. Cancer causing or cancer preventing? Are there environmental impacts? If so, how large? What is there to do about it if there are?

I now can’t ignore a curiosity I have about one or all of those questions. I certainly would like to know if something I ate caused cancer. Wouldn’t you?

There is a lot of talk about soy products in relation to some of these questions and answers are not being addressed as “world news”. An article was released in the online World News Network that emphasizes benefits of soy. For example they mention that “Americans ate nearly 500 tons of modified soy, and feel just fine.” Many people will read this and feel content with their knowledge and consumption of soy products.

Soy products have become a trendy health food over the past decade or so.  It is emphasized how the protein content of soybeans is so high and thus many people eat them in place of other foods that normally provide the protein content of a “healthy diet”. If you do a search for general information on soy products you will most likely come across something mentioning how “Soybeans are considered a source of complete protein, i.e., protein that contains significant amounts of all the essential amino acids that must be provided to the human body.” (Global Oneness)

Many sites echo these thoughts talking about “soy’s culinary versatility and exceptional health benefits”(The Worlds Healthiest Foods) and how “the amino acid profile of soy protein is nearly equivalent in quality to meat, milk and egg protein” (National Soybean Research Laboratory)

If you were to look up information on soy or ask someone personally, most knowledge is similar to what I mention here.  Being someone who does not know a lot about specifics on nutrition I am pleased to read these facts.

Looking a bit further, I found more information on health related issues with soy products. It turns out that there is plenty of information that opposes general facts and knowledge about soy products. One article notes that,

It is lacking in the sulfur containing amino acid methionine…[which is] particularly important for…proper immune system function, and the body’s production of…one of the most important anti-oxidants…[which] serves to detoxify a variety of harmful compounds such as carcinogens.(Body Building For You)

Another article looks at nutritional value of soybeans and states that “only fermented soy products are safe” which include miso—made into soup—among very few other forms. The article also suggests that “modern soy products including soy milks and artificial meat and dairy products…pose a number of serious problems.”(Concerns Regarding Soybeans)

Soy products and cancer? In the same article it is mentioned that, “some researchers believe the rapid increase in liver and pancreatic cancer in Africa is due to the introduction of soy products there.” Others emphasize cancer preventing facts, “that soy products may be helpful both in preventing cancer and in helping to treat it” (Institute for Traditional Medicine)

Personal health aside, there are also global health issues related to soy. The excitement over this product has put it in high public demand and so cultivation rushes to meet. In an article written by Friends of the Earth International (FOEI) it is articulated that “The most serious problems caused by soy monocultures are linked to their continued expansion” which involves cutting down forests to make room for large crops. The Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) agrees that expansion is a huge issue, they also suggest that genetically modified soy would leave a smaller footprint and so there must be a global standard of cultivation in order to limit exploitation.

To counter this, the FOEI explains that,

Because of the sheer size of territory currently used for soy production, even the use of legally permitted agrochemicals leads to massive pollution of the countryside in the producing countries, causing depletion of freshwater resources of Indigenous Peoples and rural communities, biodiversity loss, and numerous health problems amongst the rural population, often with fatal consequences.

As may be deduced from this, there is a lot of conflicting evidence about personal and global health benefits of soy but the reality is that there continues to be a demand for soy products. The information that is accessible to people tends to favour particular perspectives—the pro-soy perspective.

It is important to stay informed on studies and updated information on foods such as soy, as to turn your entire life over to a bean, it would seem logical to explore every aspect of that bean as possible; to be informed on every angle, every perspective. It is our duty as consumers to not take information blindly; personal research is necessary in order to have an informed perspective.

Soybeans mean so much more to me now than a tasty culinary supplement; there are a lot more than proteins packed into that tiny green shell, and it is definately news worthy on a global level.

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